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Varsity Intensifies Mental Health Programmes to address depression cases

In efforts to tackle mental health among its students, lectures and staff, Mount Kenya University (MKU) has scaled up mental health and counselling programmes in all its departments in order to avert rising depression cases.

MKU Vice-Chancellor, Prof Deogratius Jaganyi said they have over 400 volunteers and peer counsellors to help in the fight against depression at the institution’s Thika Campus alone which has a high student population.

Speaking during a youth forum at the University’s Thika Main Campus yesterday, the VC said mental health in most universities is at a high due to academic, financial and peer pressures adding that some of the times, they have led to suicides if not tacked on time.

He called for concerted effort from stakeholders, counsellors and chaplains in the institutions to help in the fight saying it might turn into a crisis if not addressed on time.

“Our Thika Main Campus has about 400 counsellors, trained volunteers and peer counsellors.  Other campuses have over 100 trained peer counsellors. All of them work together with the chaplains, associate deans and the office of the Dean of Students to help tackle mental health among students, lecturers and staff,” he said.

In a speech read on his behalf by Dr Peter Kirira, the Deputy Vice-chancellor, administration, planning and institutional advancement, Prof Jaganyi said partnering with Unesco Regional Office; they managed to host a mental health programme last year where students and the local youth were trained on mental health.

Through such forums, he said, the university aims to reduce the number of young people living with anxiety and depression not only in the institution but also across the country

“Depression is not only in universities and colleges, but it is hitting every cadre of people. There needs to be enhanced awareness and counselling forums to tackle the menace in schools, job places, streets,” he said.

He said the university is working to increase programmes that can help in addressing mental health adding that they will be rolled out soon.

MKU Pro-Chancellor, Dr Vincent Gaitho said tackling mental issues on time helps reduce suicide and homicide cases which have been on the rise in recent times.

He called on partners to continue supporting mental health programmes as well as organize awareness every year for the good and well-being of local communities.

He expressed concerns that the youth are getting into mental disorders and depression, and some of them have led to suicide noting that such desperation needs to be reversed.

By Muoki Charles

 

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